The new-look Cleveland Cavaliers demolished the Boston Celtics on Sunday afternoon, a 121-99 win that was notable for all kinds of reasons. Let’s dive right into them:

1. The Cavaliers have rediscovered their identity.

The decision to trade Kyrie Irving to the Celtics was the obvious thing people pointed to in talking about Cleveland’s offseason overhaul when this regular season began in October. But the larger issue for the Cavaliers wasn’t the departure of Irving (though it obviously hurt). It was Cleveland deciding to go away from the very thing that made the Cavaliers into the team that dominated the Eastern Conference over the past three years and won a championship in 2016: Surrounding LeBron James with shooters, giving him the ball and letting him go to work.

With the new additions on hand in Boston, the Cavaliers looked like themselves again right from the start of Sunday’s game, and their rotation again makes sense. The two main groups – George Hill, J.R. Smith, Cedi Osman, James and Tristan Thompson starting; Jordan Clarkson, Rodney Hood, Kyle Korver, Jeff Green and Larry Nance as the second unit – feature four perimeter players surrounding a big (either Thompson or Nance), who can then serve as a pick-and-roll partner offensively and provide energy defensively.

Cleveland couldn’t do that with non-shooters such as Derrick Rose and Dwyane Wade, or with Jae Crowder and Isaiah Thomas having down seasons. Now they can – and, as they showed Sunday, they can have a lot of success doing it. And, in doing so . . .

2. The East, once again, goes through Cleveland.

It didn’t look like the Cavaliers were going to find their way through the Eastern Conference playoffs and back to the NBA Finals after the way the past few months had gone. Cleveland kept getting blown …read more

Source:: The Denver Post – Sports


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